A Swazi Cabinet minister lied to senators about an aborted US$60 million (E429 million) weapons deal.
Lutfo Dlamini, the Minister of Defence, denied a Wikileaks report that Swaziland had tried to buy guns, ammunition, armed vehicles and helicopters from a company in the UK, but the deal had been blocked by the British Government because of fears the weapons would be used against the Swazi civilian population.
Both of the kingdom’s daily newspapers, The Times of Swaziland and the Swazi Observer, report today (28 March 2011) that Dlamini categorically denied there was any weapons deal.
The Times reported, ‘Dlamini said there was at no stage where the country spoke of purchasing guns.’
The Swazi Observer reported him saying, ‘We never bought any guns anywhere and never spent E429 million. The information leaked was misleading, it was written by someone who had his own agendas.’
But Dlamini was lying. The problem for Dlamini is that when the news broke in February John Kunene, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Defence, the man who signed the contract, publicly confirmed the deal and said the Swazi Government had never given up trying to buy the weapons.
It had been revealed by Wikileaks that the Swazi Government wanted to buy the weapons through an arms broker in the UK called Unionlet. The British Government refused to allow the deal to go through because it believed the weapons would be used by the Swazi Government to suppress its own people, or they would be sold on to another country, possibly Zimbabwe or Iran.
The Swazi News on 26 February 2011 quoted Kunene saying, ‘We have been in constant discussion with Unionlet in buying arms for peacekeeping exercises in other countries, and have never abandoned the idea.’
The Swaziland Government said the weapons were wanted as part of Swaziland’s peacekeeping obligations to the United Nations.
The UN would reimburse the money Swaziland spent on the weapons, which would be kept in the kingdom, Kunene said.
So, Dlamini has told a whopping lie to senators. They should drag him back before them and squeeze the truth out of him.
But, Dlamini won’t talk to them. The Times reports, ‘Dlamini said the matter of firearms was bordered on state security and asked the media to stop reporting about matters which touched on state security.’
SWAZILAND ARMS DEAL IS STILL ON
LIES, DAMN LIES, AND LUTFO DLAMINI